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Harry J. Coles, Lek-Bmk v. Joshua Eagle

April 29, 2013

HARRY J. COLES, LEK-BMK PLAINTIFF,
v.
JOSHUA EAGLE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge

ORDER DENYING APPEAL AND AFFIRMING MAGISTRATE JUDGE ORDER DATED MARCH 1, 2013

On March 1, 2013, the magistrate judge granted Defendants Joshua Eagle and Elton Robertson's Motion for Leave to Amend the Rule 16 Deadline to Permit the Filing of a Dispositive Motion ("Defendants' Motion") [dkt. no. 342,] and granted Plaintiff Harry Cole's Motion to Amend Rule 16 Scheduling Order to Continue Trial, Reopen Discovery, and Amend the Complaint ("Plaintiff's Motion"). [Dkt. no. 350.] The magistrate judge also issued an amended scheduling order ("Order"), setting forth new trial dates and associated deadlines. [Dkt. no. 362.] On March 15, 2013, Defendants filed their Appeal of Magistrate Barry T. Kurren's (sic) March 1, 2013 Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Rule 16 Scheduling Order to Continue Trial, Reopen Discovery and Amend His Complaint ("Appeal"). [Dkt. no. 365.] The Court finds this matter suitable for disposition without a hearing pursuant to Rule LR7.2(d) of the Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of Hawai`i ("Local Rules"). After careful consideration of the Appeal, memorandum in support, declaration of counsel, appended exhibits and errata filed by Defendants, the Appeal is hereby DENIED for the reasons set forth below.

BACKGROUND

The parties and the Court are familiar with the extensive factual and legal history of this case, and the Court will only discuss the events that are relevant to the review of the Order and the Appeal. Plaintiff's Motion requested that the district court: (1) amend the existing scheduling order; (2) continue the trial date; (3) reopen discovery; and (4) allow Plaintiff to amend his Complaint.

The Appeal requests that the Court set aside the March 1, 2013 Order, and deny Plaintiff's Motion in its entirety. They argue that the Order contradicts this Court's previous orders and goes against the law of the case. With respect to the request to amend the Complaint, Defendants argue that there were no new facts alleged to support the Order, other than Plaintiff's counsel's assertion that Plaintiff was formerly proceeding pro se and that he has since retained counsel.

STANDARD

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), a district judge may designate a magistrate judge to hear and decide a pretrial matter pending before the court. The decision of the magistrate judge on non-dispositive matters is final. Bhan v. NME Hosp., Inc., 929 F.2d 1404, 1414 (9th Cir. 1991). However, a district judge may reconsider a magistrate's order on these non-dispositive pretrial matters and set aside that order, or any portion thereof, if it is "clearly erroneous or contrary to law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); LR 74.1; see Rivera v. NIBCO, Inc., 364 F.3d 1057, 1063 (9th Cir. 2004); see also Osband v. Woodford, 290 F.3d 1036, 1041 (9th Cir. 2002).

. . . . "A decision is 'contrary to law' if it applies an incorrect legal standard or fails to consider an element of the applicable standard." Na Pali Haweo Cmty. Ass'n v. Grande, 252 F.R.D. 672, 674 (D. Haw. 2008); see Hunt v. Nat'l Broadcasting Co., 872 F.2d 289, 292 (9th Cir. 1989) (noting that such failures constitute abuse of discretion).

Hasegawa v. Hawaii, CV No. 10--00745 DAE--BMK, 2011 WL 6258831, at *1-2 (D. Hawai`i Dec. 14, 2011).

The threshold of the "clearly erroneous" test is high. United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co., 333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948) ("A finding is 'clearly erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed."); Thorp v. Kepoo, 100 F. Supp. 2d 1258, 1260 (D. Haw. 2000) (the clearly erroneous standard is "significantly deferential, requiring a definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.").

Dowkin v. Honolulu Police Dep't, Civil No. 10--00087 SOM/RLP, 2011 WL 3021784, at *1 (D. Hawai'i July 22, 2011).

DISCUSSION

At the outset, the Court notes that the standard applicable to an appeal of a magistrate judge's non-dispositive order is highly deferential. The Order appealed from here does not set forth the magistrate judge's reasoning in ruling on Plaintiff's Motion and Defendants' Motion, but was issued followed a hearing on the motions. Defendants argue that the magistrate should not have allowed Plaintiff to amend his Complaint, add additional claims and parties, or extend the scope of discovery because the Court has already decided the same issues that Plaintiff attempted to reopen.

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16, the pretrial scheduling order "may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent." Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4). Defendants argue that Plaintiff's previous pro se status does not amount to good cause. The Court agrees that pro se litigants must follow the same rules of ...


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